How to Start a Green and Sustainable Properties Business

Green and sustainable properties are buildings that minimize their environmental impact and enhance the well-being of their occupants. They use energy-efficient technologies, renewable resources and sustainable materials to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve water and improve indoor air quality. They also offer social and economic benefits, such as lower operating costs, higher occupancy rates and increased property values.

According to McKinsey, green and sustainable properties can account for up to 40 percent of global construction activity by 2030, driven by growing consumer demand, regulatory pressure and investor interest. Investing in green and sustainable properties can offer a competitive advantage and a positive impact for real estate developers and owners.

However, starting a green and sustainable properties business is not a simple task. It requires market research, education, networking, location selection, sustainable design and construction, certification and labeling, marketing and customer education, and property management. In this article, we will outline the key considerations to keep in mind when starting a green and sustainable properties business.

Market Research and Understanding

The first step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to identify the demand and market trends for green and sustainable properties. You need to understand who your potential customers are, what their needs and preferences are, and how much they are willing to pay for green features. You also need to understand the current and future supply of green properties in your target market, as well as the opportunities and challenges that you may face.

Some of the sources that you can use for market research include:

  • Industry reports: Industry reports can provide you with comprehensive and updated information on the size, growth, segmentation and outlook of the green and sustainable properties market. For example, you can consult reports from GRESB, a real estate sustainability benchmark used to analyze $5.3 trillion in assets globally.
  • Local regulations: Local regulations can affect your green and sustainable properties business in terms of building codes, zoning laws, permits, incentives and penalties. You need to research and understand the local regulations related to green construction and certification in your target market.
  • Competition analysis: Competition analysis can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses compared to your competitors. You need to analyze the products, prices, features, locations and marketing strategies of other green and sustainable properties developers and owners in your target market.

Education and Knowledge

The second step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to acquire knowledge about the principles and concepts of green and sustainable construction. You need to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of energy efficiency, renewable resources, water conservation, waste management, indoor environmental quality and other relevant topics. You also need to stay updated on best practices and the latest trends in sustainable construction.

Some of the sources that you can use for education include:

  • Books and articles: Books and articles can provide you with comprehensive and in-depth information on various topics related to green and sustainable construction. You can also get different perspectives and opinions from different authors and experts. Some examples of books and articles that you can read include:
  • The Green Building Revolution by Jerry Yudelson
  • Sustainable Construction: Green Building Design and Delivery by Charles J. Kibert
  • How the conversation around green real estate is changing by Christian Ulbrich
  • Courses and programs: Courses and programs can provide you with structured and systematic information on various topics related to green and sustainable construction. You can also get feedback and guidance from instructors and mentors. Some examples of courses and programs that you can take include:
  • LEED Green Associate Exam Preparation Course by USGBC
  • Sustainable Design and Construction Specialization by Stanford University
  • Green Real Estate Investing Course by Udemy
  • Certifications: Certifications can validate your knowledge and skills in green and sustainable construction. They can also enhance your credibility and reputation in the market. Some examples of certifications that you can obtain include:
  • LEED Accredited Professional by USGBC
  • BREEAM Assessor by BRE Global
  • WELL Accredited Professional by IWBI

Establish a Network of Professionals

The third step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to establish a network of professionals who can help you with your projects. You need to collaborate with architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, manufacturers and other specialists who have experience and expertise in sustainable construction. You also need to build connections with green and sustainable organizations and associations that can provide you with support and insights.

Some of the ways that you can establish a network of professionals include:

  • Referrals: Referrals are one of the most effective ways to find reliable and reputable professionals who can help you with your projects. You can ask for referrals from your existing contacts, such as friends, family, colleagues or clients, who have worked with or know someone who has worked with green and sustainable professionals.
  • Online platforms: Online platforms are another way to find and connect with professionals who can help you with your projects. You can use online platforms such as LinkedIn, Houzz or Upwork to search for profiles, portfolios, reviews and ratings of green and sustainable professionals. You can also use online platforms to communicate, collaborate and manage your projects.
  • Events: Events are another way to meet and interact with professionals who can help you with your projects. You can attend events such as conferences, seminars, workshops or trade shows that are related to green and sustainable construction. You can also participate in events such as competitions, awards or hackathons that showcase innovative solutions for green and sustainable construction.

Selection of Suitable Locations

The fourth step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to select suitable locations for your projects. You need to evaluate the environmental conditions, accessibility and urban development policies of potential construction sites. You also need to consider the preferences and expectations of your target customers.

Some of the factors that you need to consider when selecting suitable locations include:

  • Environmental conditions: Environmental conditions refer to the natural features of a site, such as solar exposure, topography, vegetation, soil quality, water availability and air quality. You need to select locations that have favorable environmental conditions for green and sustainable construction. For example, you may want to choose locations that have high solar exposure for installing solar panels or low topography for minimizing earthwork.
  • Accessibility: Accessibility refers to the ease of reaching a site by different modes of transportation, such as public transit, car, bike or walk. You need to select locations that have high accessibility for green and sustainable construction. For example, you may want to choose locations that are close to public transit stations or bike lanes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or locations that are near services or amenities for enhancing convenience.
  • Urban development policies: Urban development policies refer to the rules and regulations that govern the planning, design and development of a site, such as zoning laws, building codes, permits, incentives or penalties. You need to select locations that have supportive urban development policies for green and sustainable construction. For example, you may want to choose locations that have flexible zoning laws for allowing mixed-use development or locations that have incentives for encouraging green construction.

Sustainable Design and Construction

The fifth step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to design.

  • Sustainable design and construction: Sustainable design and construction refer to the process of creating buildings that minimize their environmental impact and enhance the well-being of their occupants. You need to work with professionals who can help you develop designs that maximize energy efficiency and the use of renewable resources. You also need to use sustainable building materials and incorporate renewable energy systems and efficient water management systems.

Some of the factors that you need to consider when designing and constructing sustainable buildings include:

  • Energy efficiency: Energy efficiency refers to the amount of energy required to operate a building and its systems. You need to design and construct buildings that reduce their energy consumption and demand. For example, you can use passive design strategies such as natural ventilation, daylighting or shading to regulate temperature and lighting. You can also use energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, smart thermostats or high-performance windows to optimize energy use.
  • Renewable resources: Renewable resources refer to the sources of energy that are replenished by natural processes, such as solar, wind or hydro power. You need to design and construct buildings that use renewable resources to generate electricity or heat. For example, you can install solar panels or wind turbines on rooftops or facades to produce clean energy. You can also use biomass or geothermal systems to provide heating or cooling.
  • Water conservation: Water conservation refers to the amount of water required to operate a building and its systems. You need to design and construct buildings that reduce their water consumption and waste. For example, you can use low-flow fixtures, rainwater harvesting or greywater recycling to save water. You can also use green roofs or permeable pavements to reduce stormwater runoff and prevent flooding.

Certification and Labeling

The sixth step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to seek certification and labeling for your projects. Certification and labeling are processes of verifying and validating the sustainability of your buildings according to specific standards and criteria. They can also help you communicate and market the sustainable features and benefits of your buildings.

Some of the benefits of certification and labeling include:

  • Recognition: Certification and labeling can provide you with recognition and credibility for your green and sustainable properties business. They can also help you differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract more customers.
  • Performance: Certification and labeling can help you improve the performance and quality of your green and sustainable properties. They can also help you monitor and measure your environmental impact and social responsibility.
  • Value: Certification and labeling can help you increase the value and profitability of your green and sustainable properties. They can also help you reduce operating costs, increase occupancy rates and enhance customer satisfaction.

Some of the examples of certification and labeling that you can seek include:

  • LEED: LEED is a certification system developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) that evaluates buildings based on their performance in areas such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials selection and innovation. LEED offers four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
  • BREEAM: BREEAM is a certification system developed by BRE Global that assesses buildings based on their performance in areas such as management, health and well-being, energy, transport, water, materials, waste, land use and ecology, pollution and innovation. BREEAM offers five ratings: Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent and Outstanding.
  • WELL: WELL is a certification system developed by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) that measures buildings based on their impact on human health and well-being in areas such as air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind. WELL offers three levels of certification: Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Marketing and Customer Education

The seventh step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to market and educate your customers about your projects. Marketing and customer education are strategies of promoting and explaining the advantages and benefits of your green and sustainable properties to potential and existing customers. They can also help you increase your sales and retention rates.

Some of the methods that you can use for marketing and customer education include:

  • Marketing materials: Marketing materials are documents or media that showcase the features and benefits of your green and sustainable properties. For example, you can use brochures, flyers, posters or videos to highlight the energy efficiency, water conservation or indoor environmental quality of your properties. You can also use testimonials, case studies or awards to demonstrate the value and impact of your properties.
  • Advertising campaigns: Advertising campaigns are coordinated efforts to reach and persuade your target customers through various channels and platforms. For example, you can use online ads, social media posts, email newsletters or podcasts to create awareness and interest in your green and sustainable properties. You can also use SEO, PPC or influencer marketing to drive traffic and conversions to your website or landing page.
  • Customer education: Customer education is the process of providing information and guidance to your customers about your green and sustainable properties. For example, you can use webinars, workshops or tours to educate your customers about the technical aspects, operational procedures or maintenance tips of your properties. You can also use FAQs, blogs or reports to answer common questions, address concerns or share insights about your properties.

Property Management

The eighth step to starting a green and sustainable properties business is to manage your properties effectively and efficiently. Property management is the process of maintaining and operating your properties to ensure their quality, safety and profitability. Property management can be time-consuming and complex, especially for green and sustainable properties that require more attention and care.

Some of the tasks that you need to perform for property management include:

  • Finding and vetting potential tenants or buyers: Screening and selecting reliable and responsible tenants or buyers who can pay the rent or purchase price on time and respect your property rules and regulations.
  • Collecting rent or payments: Ensuring that you receive the rent or payments from your tenants or buyers on a regular basis and in full. You may also need to deal with late payments, defaults or evictions if necessary.
  • Maintaining the property: Performing regular inspections, repairs and upgrades to keep your property in good condition and comply with legal standards. You may also need to hire contractors or service providers for specialized tasks such as landscaping, cleaning or security.
  • Handling tenant or buyer issues: Resolving any complaints, requests or disputes that may arise from your tenants or buyers regarding your property or its services. You may also need to handle emergencies or crises that may occur on your property such as fire, flood or theft.

Property management can affect your reputation, satisfaction and retention of your tenants or buyers, as well as your return on investment. Therefore, you need to ensure that you provide high-quality property management that meets or exceeds the expectations of your green and sustainable market.

If you do not have the time, skills or resources to manage your properties yourself, you may consider hiring a professional property manager who can handle these tasks for you. A professional property manager can save you time, money and hassle by taking care of all aspects of property management on your behalf. However, you need to make sure that you choose a reputable and experienced property manager who understands the needs and preferences of your green and sustainable market.

Conclusion

Starting a green and sustainable properties business is a rewarding and exciting venture for real estate developers and owners who want to make a positive impact on the environment and society. However, it also requires market research, education, networking, location selection, sustainable design and construction, certification and labeling, marketing and customer education, and property management. By following the key considerations outlined in this article, you can start your journey in the business of green and sustainable properties. Remember to always do your due diligence, seek professional advice and keep learning as you go along.

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